Just under a month ago, we were waiting in anticipation of the arrival of the 2014 Nexus line. Originally, we weren’t even sure there was going to be a Nexus line refresh this year. How wrong we were! Not only were we graced with the arrival of the Motorola Nexus 6, but we were also given the HTC Nexus 9, and even the Asus Nexus Player. 3 Nexus devices for the price of two! What a bonus.
The Nexus 6 is clearly the real hot commodity of the three, but today I want to talk about the Nexus 9 tablet - as well as the previous generation, the Asus Nexus 7 tablet (2013 edition).
The Nexus 9 is an important symbol right now, mostly because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen any collaborative effort between HTC and Google. In typical (recent) HTC fashion, the Nexus 9 does have dual front-facing speakers, and aluminum accents are used around the edges of the device. No aluminum unibody design here, but a soft grip back still makes for a comfortable hold.
Between the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 9, there are two huge changes between the two tablets: screen size and price.
As you can probably guess, the Nexus 7 has a 7-inch screen while the Nexus 9 features a 9-inch screen; however, while the Nexus 9 clearly gives you more room to work with, there is a dip in pixel density: the Nexus 7 features 323 pixels per inch (ppi), while the Nexus 9 features 281 ppi. Is the dip really that big of a deal? I suppose that really depends on the person, but it’s still considered HD, so you’re not going to be able to sit there and count the pixels that easily. When it comes to comparing the screen size between these two tablets, it really comes down to whether you want a bigger screen or not. Pixel density, at least in this case, isn’t really that big of a deal.
The price of the two tablets will probably hit a little closer to home than the screen size or pixel density would. Although Google no longer sells the Nexus 7 tablet, other stores like Amazon or Best Buy are selling the tablet for around $175 - not a bad price at all for a tablet, and a Nexus tablet at that (meaning no bloatware and fast updates straight from Google). As for the Nexus 9, which is for sale in the Google Play store (among other places), you’re looking at a starting price of $399. Ouch.
But just like with the price jump from the Nexus 5 to the Nexus 6, we should probably take a look at the changes made to the device before bringing out our torches and pitchforks... and if you’ve already brought them out, maybe just set them down for a minute.
When you have a price gap as big as that, you’re going to want something spectacular to show for it. Sure, you get a bigger screen, but how’s the performance of the device? What features does the Nexus 9 have that make it $200 more than than the Nexus 7? Truth be told, it really isn’t a whole lot.
For starters, you’re still faced with 16GB or 32GB of internal memory. No external memory card slot was added, so between the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 9 there is absolutely no changes made to memory.
Getting even deeper into the internals of the device, let’s take a look at the processing power. The Nexus 7 features a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor while the Nexus 9 features a 2.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1 dual-core, 64-bit processor. This is a huge difference, and the Nexus 9 has the more powerful processor here without question. Both tablets feature 2GB of RAM.
And then we look at the cameras. I don’t know about you guys, but I have a camera on the back of my Galaxy Note 8.0 (still going strong!) and I’ve used it, like, once. Still, if tablet cameras are your thing, then you’ll probably be pleased to know that the Nexus 9’s camera not only bumped up to an 8-megapixel camera from a 5-megapixel one, but it also features a flash. Also, the front-facing camera was bumped up to a 1.6-megapixel camera from a 1.2. Not much, but if you video chat a lot then any improvement is better than none.
The Nexus 9 has a much bigger battery, but most of that battery is used to take care of the extra screen. For the most part, the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 9 have the same amount of battery life. Nothing too significant either way.
One thing that the Nexus 7 does have over the Nexus 9 is wireless charging. Why wireless charging was taken out of the equation with the Nexus 9 is a mystery, because I feel like that’s an option that people would want to have handy in case something goes awry with the micro USB port.
In conclusion, we have the Nexus 7 in one corner: same amount of memory, same amount of RAM, lesser camera, less powerful, smaller screen, but has wireless charging, all for $175. Then you have the Nexus 9 in the opposing corner: bigger screen, more powerful, better camera, but no wireless charging for $399. Is it worth the price?
Of course it’s ultimately up to the buyer. For some, the larger screen and processing power alone is worth the splurge; but if you’re looking at the big picture of all specs and features, I’m going to have to say that the Nexus 7 is way more appropriately priced.
What are your thoughts on these two tablets, readers? Do you think that the Nexus 9 is a worthy upgrade from the Nexus 7? Which tablet do you prefer? Share your opinions with us in the comments below!